Saturday, September 28, 2013

[PHI 2200] Those Who Can’t Do, Teach

In this Philosophy Bites podcast, Eric Schwitzgebel discusses his work on the ethical behavior of moral philosophers. Schwitzgebel's work shows that moral philosophers are no more likely to behave morally (e.g., respond to emails from students in a timely manner, avoid eating meat, vote, etc.) than other professors. Is this a problem?

Schwitzgebel mentions one argument which purports to show that this fact about moral philosophers is not a problem. The argument goes something like this:
  1. It would be unfair to demand that moral philosophers practice what they preach.
  2. We should not demand what is not fair.
  3. Therefore, we should not demand that moral philosophers practice what they preach.
What do you think of this argument? Would the same argument apply to other professors, say, math professors? That is, if it is unfair to demand that moral philosophers be good persons, morally speaking, is it also unfair to demand that math professors be good mathematicians?

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